Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Appaloosa by Robert MacLeod

The Appaloosa by Robert MacLeod.
Gold Medal s1330, Copyright 1963

Having seen the Brando movie many times, I decided to give the novel a read. I wasn't expecting anything great, I was wrong. The Appaloosa is a marvelous novel.
Matt Fletcher is a buffalo hunter, fighting off the Comanche and Cheyenne at Adobe Walls. He pulls out with an Appaloosa pony taken from a dead Comanche, which he plans to stud on his ranch.
Chuy Medina, a Mexican gun-hawk, admires the pony and wants it. Fletcher ragged from his journey from Adobe Walls, shows the power of the buffalo gun to change Chuy's mind. Eventually, Chuy steals the pony off his ranch to save face. Fletcher sets out on a journey to retrieve the horse and his dignity.

It's a wonderful story. From the Texas Panhandle to the deserts of Mexico, descriptions of the landscape are beautifully told. MacLeod historically tells of the Battle at Adobe Walls, using men who actually fought the battle in the story. What makes "The Appaloosa" special is how Fletcher confronts relationships. Relationships between a man against a man, a man hoping for prosperity through the pony and a relationship between Fletcher and Trini, a Mexican whore-which is heartwarming. Traveling to Mexico and returned to Texas with the pony, we see Fletcher fighting inner conflicts within himself. During the final "shoot out", we witness him confronting them.

Plenty of action and violence in the novel. Which is pretty descriptive for the date it was written.

I believe, Robert MacLeod only wrote a handful of western books. I grab them, when I see them.

Note: As for the movie, The novel (as always) is better.


Unknown said...

this was a treat to read. Robert MacLeod was my great uncle and I love all his books, though they are hard to find and he never had the success of a Louis Lamour or Zane Grey his stuff is great!

Unknown said...

Hello. Was your great uncle Robert C. MacLeod? I have a rare 16mm film c.1950s titled Telephone Pioneers that has a screenplay by RCM. thanks

Jeff said...

I came across several copies of Robert Macleod's westerns in my father's paperback library after he passed away in 2016. I agree that he was an excellent writer. However my research shows that Robert Macleod was the pen-name for William Knox. Knox was a Scotsman (born in Glasgow) who was a newspaperman and novelist and evidently lived in Scotland for the duration of his life. He wrote many novels under his actual name as well as several pen-names of which Robert Macleod was one. Mr. Knox passed away in March 1999.